The YMCA of Greater Toledo has undergone energy improvement projects to enhance member experience, create operational savings and increase the longevity of its facilities. This 154-year-old organization, with more than 40 facility and program sites, serves over 110,000 individuals and families each year, with close to five million annual visits to facilities throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.


Our facilities are open with lights on more than 16 hours per day. We are only closed a couple of days each year. In addition, our buildings were built at various times… Some in the 60s, 70s, and 80s and others more recently. Most have gone through renovations and repairs over the decades.

Casey Holck, senior vice president and chief operating officer
YMCA of Greater Toledo


These factors led to inefficient and outdated electrical and mechanical systems, creating high energy costs and a need to assess equipment for repair or replacement.

Benefits of energy efficiency

Most nonprofit organizations are challenged to keep expenses low in order to provide the most services possible for their constituents. Implementing energy efficiency updates allows the YMCA to save money, which it can then invest back into its programs and member services.

GEM Service and the YMCA already had a working relationship which included an HVAC preventive maintenance contract at several of its facilities. “GEM understood our mechanical systems and the challenges facing our in-house facilities management team,” says Casey. “And, they understood our funding issues and were willing to work with us to provide solutions.”

Following a comprehensive energy audit, GEM and the YMCA determined that more than 60 projects were necessary for consistency,efficiency, reliability and improved overall member experience.  These projects included:

Energy efficiency cost savings

A growing number of businesses improve their facilities’ energy efficiency to reduce operating costs, upgrade equipment, and achieve environmental goals, in order to better support mission-related activities. Many, however, still cite access to capital as the number one barrier to implementing projects.

Working together to identify the capital improvements necessary to accomplish its goals, the  team began to develop the most cost-effective and comprehensive plan for upgrades and infrastructure modernizations. In addition GEM assisted the YMCA in securing other incentives and savings, resulting in:

  • more than $170,000 in annual energy savings
  • more than $135,000 in annual maintenance savings
  • utility cash incentives of $68,000
  • funding via PACE financing

Funding energy improvements via PACE financing

Twenty-year was secured to make the energy improvements. PACE is a program that works with commercial property owners to save money through long-term financing solutions.

Over the 20-year life of the loan, efficiency projects will generate more than $111,480 in total energy savings and a CO2 reduction equivalent to eliminating the energy use of 75 homes annually.

Solving energy, maintenance and utility issues

The GEM team was charged with working on six YMCA sites, coordinating multiple skilled trades workers. The YMCA intends to utilize its existing facilities well into the future, so it was important to modernize and brighten the buildings to give them a fresher and more inviting appearance and atmosphere.

A majority of the work was done when the buildings were occupied, so minimal disruption to YMCA members and employees was critical. Each facility has different managers, requiring effective communication and coordination to schedule and implement the work.

In addition, many of the existing building controls were patched together over the years, with different systems at each facility. The lighting for each of the pool areas was also different at each facility. The team focused on creating consistency in all areas to make ongoing maintenance easier for facility

“We knew this work needed to be done, but also recognized that we did not have the available funds to fix everything within a reasonable time frame. We needed a partner to accomplish our goals,” says Casey.  “GEM Energy was that partner.”

With GEM’s knowledge of energy savings, they helped us put together a strong financial case. There was no way we had the available funds up front to invest in the work. With the money saved, we are able to pay the debt and return money back to where it matters most – our members.

Casey Holck, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
YMCA of Greater Toledo

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